Readers Ask column from Oct. 12, 2015, issue
of Coin World:
A rather unusual hand-hammered silver medal was shown to me
recently by a colleague for identification. Since I was scheduled to
attend the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money
Aug. 11 to 15 in Rosemont, Ill., I chose to bring the medal with me
and show it to medal expert Dick Grinolds from Minnesota, who had a
good idea what the item was when I presented it to him for examination.
silver medal or token measures 25.4 millimeters at its widest
diameter. Grinolds believes the composition to be at least sterling
silver, which is .925 fine.
obverse design features a portrait identified as CATOE THE
PRESUMPTUOUS — COTTONPATCH, MISS. The reverse features a central
turtle, with ANA BOSTON 1973 inscribed around within a beaded circle.
Inscribed around the border is IF ALLERGIC TO MONEY DON’T COME.
notes the clue to identifying the silver piece is the set of initials,
H.A.S., on the truncation of the bust of Catoe on the obverse.
initials are those of H. Alvin Sharpe, the well-known New Orleans
artist considered the father of the Mardi Gras doubloons tossed
annually from parade floats to eager people in the crowds.
their 1966 reference, Carnival Panorama: New Orleans Mardi Gras
Medals and Krewes 1884-1965, authors Jay Guren and Richard Ugan
describe how Sharpe generally prepared his dies.
hardened steel gravers, he cuts free-hand directly into the surface of
a mild steel die, an intaglio or reverse image of the finished medal,
before hardening the die and striking the medal on a hydraulic press
in his Perdido Street studio,” according to the authors.
same die-engraving process was used for the 1973 ANA medal. Instead of
a hydraulic press, the 1973 pieces were struck by hand, the planchets
positioned between an obverse and reverse die and the top die struck
with a mallet, thus impressing the designs into the metal.
many were struck and still survive is unknown. Grinolds estimates the
value of the silver 1973 ANA silver piece at between $40 and $75 “or better.”